New brothers in arms

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,577569,00.html

New brothers in arms - and cash and intelligence

How the US and Britain reward countries offering support in war against Taliban

Jamie Wilson, Suzanne Goldenberg, Ewen MacAskill and Jonathan Steele

Saturday October 20, 2001, The Guardian

The US is expected to release shipments of advanced rocket artillery to Egypt and supply helicopter gunship spares to China- where both President George Bush and secretary of state Colin Powell are currently in negotiations - in the latest of a long list of arms, intelligence and cash deals struck to obtain the support of surrounding countries for its war against terrorism and the Taliban.

Britain's contribution is expected to include the granting of Russian demands that a hard line be taken against Chechen exiles in London, and the offer to Malaysia of sophisticated intelligence surveillance kit to use against internal dissent.

The feudal sultanate of Oman is being promised more than $1bn worth of US arms. The nuclear-armed Pakistan military regime is expecting not only large sums of cash and removal of sanctions, but also American diplomatic support over its long-running feud with India over Kashmir.

Turkey is hoping to get a big increase in loans to escape its economic crisis. And Iran, the former "terrorist state" has seen the US government this week move to block an unwelcome lawsuit against them.

James Lindsay, a former director of global issues on the US national security council under President Clinton, says the acquisition by the US of intelligence material from neighbouring states is important, alongside overflying rights and military facilities. "Intelligence sharing is going on. The US wants to get intelligence from these governments, but the way it is trading intelligence is unknown."

We list below some of the deals struck in the last month, often to regimes whose democratic and human rights records had made them virtual international pariahs before September 11.

Iran

Initially condemned the bombing of Afghanistan: but its agreement to rescue American personnel in distress in its territory suggests relations might not be too frosty. Iran is also believed to be providing the US with intelligence and has expelled Imad Mughniyeh, a Lebanese on the FBI's "most wanted" list.

The return? Tehran's views on the shape of a future Afghanistan are being given greater weight by the US. There is already a channel open for quasi-military western co-operation: Iran receives night vision goggles and four-wheel drive vehicles from Britain "to fight the drugs trade". The EU council of foreign ministers pledged consultations with a view to negotiating a trade agreement. On the same day that it was revealed that Iran agreed to help downed pilots, the US administration asked a federal judge to throw out a $10bn lawsuit brought against Iran by Americans taken hostage in 1979.

Palestinians

Yasser Arafat has backed Mr Bush. Now he hears the US president speak positively about the possibility of a Palestinian state. A proposal by a US senator, Diane Feinstein, to ban funding to the Palestinian Authority because of the suicide bombings in Israel was withdrawn after a request from Colin Powell.

Syria

Last week this former "terrorist state" was made a non-permanent member of the UN security council. This elevation passed without America using its veto.

Egypt

Israeli intelligence sources say that Tel Aviv is particularly worried about the likely sale of 26 rocket artillery systems to Egypt. Israeli lobbyists previously managed to block the sale in the US Congress before September 11.

Oman

Thousands of western troops are deployed there. On the day the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived for talks, the US announced the sale of 12 late-model F-16C fighters; plus night-attack navigation and laser-bomb targeting devices; advanced air-to-air missiles; kits to make laser-guided weapons out of bombs; Harpoon anti-ship missiles and radar equipment.

Pakistan

US sources see four elements to the deal with Pakistan: complete lifting of sanctions; increased aid and restructuring of its loans; a promise that Pakistan will have a say in the future shape of the next Afghan government and, finally, Kashmir. The Pakistani leader, General Pervez Musharraf, is understood to have demanded formal recognition of the existing Kashmir boundary with India.

The US Senate foreign relations committee approved a bill enabling Pakistan to receive emergency military assistance to combat terrorism - a useful tool should Gen Musharraf find himself facing a pro-Taliban insurgency.

The international development secretary Clare Short offered another 15m in British aid and spoke of cancelling interest payments. The EU council of foreign ministers is to boost aid. The European commission has rushed through trade concessions worth about $1.35bn.

Russia

Chechnya has been a constant source of awkward questions from foreign governments. The west now accepts that Russia is confronting "terrorism" with regard to bombings in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin has already won a change of wording from the White House, which referred the participation of al-Qaida terrorists in Chechnya.

Russia will also be expecting a clampdown on the alleged flow of young UK Muslims to fight in Chechnya. It also received a promise that the west will soften its attitude over Russia's behaviour towards unstable Muslim countries on its southern flank: where there is fighting, especially over water rights.

China

US government sources say the Bush administration wants to promote exchanges of anti-terrorist intelligence. Sanctions bar the sale of military-related equipment to Chinese security forces: they were imposed after the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square demonstrators. But Mr Bush is reported to be considering clearing the way for the sale of spare parts for Black Hawk helicopter gunships the US sold to China during the 1980s.

Uzbekistan

US forces are being given the use of bases in the former Soviet republic. When Mr Rumsfeld visited there he carried a letter from Mr Bush underscoring Washington's interests in a new relationship. The authoritarian president, Islam Karimov, is known to be keen to run an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to a port in Pakistan. With a friendly US-controlled government in Kabul the pipeline could finally become a reality. US oil companies would no doubt be willing to get involved. EU foreign ministers have also agreed to boost cooperation with Uzbekistan.

Turkey

Nato's sole Muslim member and a key US ally - airbases in Turkey have been a key staging post for the attacks on Afghanistan - has been offered IMF and World Bank loans totalling $1.7bn and is seeking a further $9bn to help shore up its crumbling export and tourism industries in the wake of the attacks.

Malaysia

The US has been seeking assistance to provide intelligence and arrest Bin Laden terrorist suspects from lists provided by the FBI. British intelligence sources say interception and surveillance equipment to enable regimes to spy on their own people is being offered as a sweetener to states such as Malaysia offering information about Bin Laden and al-Qaida.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is under fierce criticism in Washington for its refusal to allow the unrestricted use of US airbases there and apparent refusal to share intelligence and act against al-Qaida supporters. Members of the US intelligence community have been briefing journalists including the New Yorker magazine about the contents of some of their unsavoury national security agency phone taps involving members of the Saudi royal family and prostitutes. The threat to the Saudi elite is clear: help us or else.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), October 20, 2001

Answers

Despite undeniable advantages to such policy changes at this point in time, these are dangerous games. It might be useful to remember that Bin Laden &Co and Saddam Hussein were pampered and catered to by the US as well, and without such pampering, hardly would have reached their present capabilities...

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), October 20, 2001.

Swissrose - that's our motto, All things to All People. Just name your price and we'll cough it up in a heartbeat.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley1@netzero.net), October 20, 2001.

Making deals with devils. The ends justify the means, NOT! Sounds like the attitude Olie North had in Iran Contra.

-- Steve McClendon (ke6bjd@yahoo.com), October 21, 2001.

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